Tag Archives: illustrated books

The Inside Story, Michael Buckley

The Inside Story, Michael BuckleyThe Inside Story by Michael Buckley
Illustrated by  Peter Ferguson

First Published: 2010
Pages: 266 (Paperback)
Form: Novel
Series: The Sisters Grimm #8

Rating: 3/53/53/53/53/5


Sabrina and Daphne Grimm have studied hundreds of fairy tales as part of the family business, but they never thought they’d actually be in one. And yet that’s exactly what happens when they follow the diabolical Master into the Book of Everafter, a mysterious tome in which copies of the world’s fairy tales live out their stories over and over again. The Grimm’s must track down the Master while avoiding the book’s tyrannical Editor, who is devoted to keeping the stories on track. In the Book of Everafter, stories can be rewritten, which is why Sabrina and Daphne must find the Master before he can alter his fate – and the fate of the world.

The penultimate book in the series, The Inside Story, is a massive departure from the previous instalments. The now-formulaic ‘Fairy Tale Detective’ plot-line that’s been gradually phased out in the last two books is now put completely aside in favour of pure action-adventure. But also put aside is the ‘fairy tale characters living in the modern world’ concept, which is probably the bit I enjoy most about this series. The Inside Story sees Daphne and Sabrina leaving Ferryport Landing and jumping into the master-book of fairytales where they have to race through each story, in pursuit of the villainous ‘Master’, before he changes his own story forever and gives himself ultimate powers. Meanwhile ‘the Editor’ is pursuing them all for interfering with his stories and insisting they put things back the way they were. It’s all very meta and it does sound like a fun concept. But the execution left me feeling kind of flat. Continue reading


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Dodos Are Forever, Dick King-Smith

Dodos Are Forever, Dick King-SmithDodos Are Fover by Dick King-Smith
Illustrated by David Parkins

First Published: 1989
Pages: 79 (Paperback)
Form: Novel
Rating: 4/54/54/54/54/5

‘Dodos have no enemies, everyone knows that.’

Beatrice and Bertie, dodos in love, watch the ship approach with no thought of danger.

But the newly arrived giant sea-monkeys soon become their deadly enemy. And the rats they bring with them are worse still: an evil, cunning clan who threaten the dodos long after the sailors have left.

Is this the end of dodos forever? Or can they pull off a daring escape?

This is one of the first books I read all by myself. My year one teacher, Mrs. Heath, kept a personal stash of decent children’s books in a cupboard and after taking a week or so to ascertain that I was reading beyond the required level of ‘Biff, Chip and Kipper‘ she let me and a couple of others plunder from this cupboard as much as we liked during school hours – with the one stipulation that we couldn’t take the books home. So rereading this at almost 25 the first thing that strikes me is how much shorter it seems to be than when I was 5. It is still, however, a very fun little story about animals that it’s hard not to love. Seriously, who doesn’t love dodos?

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Magic and other Misdemeanors, Michael Buckley

Magic and Other Misdemeanors, Michael BuckleyMagic and Other Misdemeanors by Michael Buckley
Illustrated by  Peter Ferguson

First Published: 2007
Pages: 282 (Paperback)
Form: Novel
Series: The Sisters Grimm #5

Rating: 4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it

In their latest adventure, intrepid fairy-tale detectives Sabrina and Daphne Grimm investigate a rash of magical thefts that might add up to a very grim future for their family, who are not so popular in Ferryport Landing these days. With Granny Relda desperately scrambling to pay Mayor Heart’s outrageous taxes on humans, the Sisters Grimm tackle their first solo case – with a little help from the troublemaker Puck, of course. Meanwhile their old friend Mr. Canis seems to be losing his grip on his human self, becoming more like the Big Bad Wolf every day. Can Sabrina and Daphne solve the crime and change their family’s future for the better?

After their trip to New York, the Sisters Grimm are back in Ferryport Landing for their best adventure yet. Magic items have been stolen from three of Ferryport’s most powerful witches and tears in the fabric of time have started opening up in town, letting through dinosaurs, American civil war soldiers, and providing the sisters with a rather grim glimpse into their possible futures where dragons roam the skies and the Scarlet Hand rules Fairyport.

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The Book Thief, Markus Zusak

The Book Thief, Marcus ZusakThe Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

First Published: 2005
Pages: 534 (Paperback)
Form: Novel

Rating:4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it



1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier.

Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when bombs begin to fall.



it’s a small story, about:

a girl
an accordionist
some fanatical Germans
a Jewish fist fighter
quite a lot of thievery.



I’m alive! I haven’t been online much (or even read very much) in a long time for lots and lots of reasons – some personal that I don’t want to get into, some so boringly mundane that nobody else wants me to get into, but I’m back now so will get onto the review.

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The Book of Barely Imagined Beings, Caspar Henderson

The Book of Barely Imagined Beings, Caspar HendersonThe Book of Barely Imagined Beings: A 21st Century Bestiary by Caspar Henderson
Illustrated by Golbanou Moghaddas

First Published: 2012
427 (Hardback)
Form: Non-Fiction, Science, Natural History, Zoology, Bestiary


From the Axolotl to the Zebrafish, our planet contains a host of barely imagined beings: real creatures that are often more astonishing than anything dreamt in the pages of a medieval bestiary. Ranging from the depths of the ocean to the most arid corners of the land, Caspar Henderson captures the beauty and bizarreness of the many living forms we thought we knew and some we could never have contemplated, inviting us to better imagine the precarious world we inhabit.

A witty, vivid blend of cutting edge natural history and meditative reflection, The Book of Barely Imagined Beings is infectiously celebratory about the sheer ingenuity and variety of life.

The Book of Barely Imagined Beings is subtitled ‘A 21st Century Bestiary’ and that’s what it is; not a natural history book, not an encyclopedia of animals, a bestiary – an odd fusion of science and navel-gazing. While in a medieval bestiary real and mythological animals were used as symbols for human virtues or vices, in this book real animals are used as starting points to examine wider issues about how human’s relate to both the world and each other. So the Axolotl entry looks at the Spanish conquest of Mexico, the Gonodactylus examines the scientific evolution of the eye, and so on. It’s a unique and very interesting approach, but one that doesn’t quite hit the mark in every entry. In the spirit of mimicking of medieval bestiaries the book has also been gorgeously designed; there’s gilding on the cover, a full-page illustration and illuminated capital letter for each animal that incorporates the major themes of the entry, and (best of all) marginalia. It is, quite simply, a beautiful book. And not only beautiful on the outside but unique on the inside. Continue reading

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The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, Catherynne M. Valente

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, Catherynne M. ValenteThe Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente
Illustrated by Ana Juan

First Published: 2012
Pages: 344 (Paperback)
Form: Novel
Series: Fairyland #2


In the kingdom of Fairyland-Below, preparations are underway for the annual Revels . . . bur aboveground, the creatures of Fairyland are in no mood for a party.

It has been a long time since young September bid farewell to Fairyland, and she is excited to see it again; but upon her return she is shocked to find that her friends have been losing their shadows, and therefore their magic, to the kingdom of Fairyland-Below . . . It spells certain disaster and September won’t stand for it. Determined to make amends, she travels down into the underworld where, among creatures of ice and moonlight, she encounters a face she recognizes all too well: Halloween, the Hollow Queen. Only then does September realize what she must do to save Fairyland from slipping into the mundane world forever.

Come and join the Revels with September and her friends. But be warned: in Fairyland-Below, even the best of friends aren’t always what they seem . . .

Still in post-novel afterglow here (this is what happens when you’re more interested in books than people). I really love this little series, it’s like a slice of childhood, I just want to drizzle cream and chocolate sauce all over this book and gobble it up. But that would ruin a very beautiful paperback (and probably my digestive system too) so instead I will simply love it and stroke it and tuck it carefully back on my bookshelf to treasure for all time. Like, seriously, if I could do the Gollum voice that is exactly what I would be doing right now.

And now that I’ve scared all the normal people off I’ll get onto the review. . .

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Usborne Greek Myths for Young Children

Greek Myths for Young Children

Greek Myths for Young Children by Heather Amery
Illustrated by Linda Edwards

First Published: 2000
Pages: 128 including pronunciation guide (Hardback)
Form: Picture book, short stories

Rating: 4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it

The Greek myths are wonderful stories, full of brave heroes, terrifying monsters, powerful gods and goddesses, battles and great adventures. In this book, they are retold in a way that young children can listen to and understand, and older children can enjoy reading the tales for themselves.

Beautifully and imaginatively illustrated by Linda Edwards, this is a book that will be a source of interest and pleasure for the whole family.

One of very many children’s books on Greek mythology, I picked this one up mainly because it’s Usborne (I grew up on Usborne books and I have a certain amount of loyalty to them despite the fact that they keep putting out gendered shit like this) and because the pictures inside are pretty dang gorgeous. With so many of these sort of books about though it’s always worth flipping through a few in the bookshop, maybe reading a couple of the stories, and getting the one that works for you.  This one, I have to say, doesn’t quite work for me. It’s very good, perfect for the purpose I got it for – which was to ensure my Greek storytelling event later this month is age appropriate  – and I’ll be keeping it in my library of Greek myths, but it’s far too kiddified in places for my own personal liking. For public storytelling where I don’t know how (over)sensitive or protective children’s parents are it’s great. For my own kids/nieces/nephews (if I were ever to have any) I would want something that didn’t gloss over Theseus leaving Ariadne, or pretended that Jason and Medea didn’t murder her brother.

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